Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in the Divine image, in the image of God, the Lord created them, male and female. (NRSV)
The doctrine of the Imago Dei—that humanity is created in the image of God—is foundational to our understanding of who we are. Something in each of us, from the most powerful to the most forgotten, bears the image of God. It shapes how we treat ourselves and one another.
So many of the traditions, stories, and legends that surround the Advent/Christmas season beautifully illustrate the value of those society my reject or dismiss. From the Little Drummer Boy to Ebenezer Scrooge to Charlie Brown’s Christmas—lowly characters are given value and worth and those who can’t see it learn hard lessons to love and value everyone.
The ultimate story that reveals the Imago Dei, is the story that gathers us together this season…the nativity of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us.
We are filled with wonder and awe that God loved humanity so much, so wanted a deeper relationship with humankind, that God gave up the freedom and omnipotence of being the creator of all things, to become for a time, a human being….A human being who could feel pain, joy, disappointment, fear, and death.
We call that the incarnation. God becoming human in the person of Jesus Christ, was the ultimate act of vulnerability.
Holy One, in this season, your Imago Dei in us is truly a call to vulnerability—to never see ourselves as less than bearing your image, but to also never see ourselves bearing it any more or less than any other person. Thank you for this invitation to open ourselves to a deeper relationship with you by seeking out your image in every person we encounter, with curiosity, respect and love. Guide our steps this Advent as we prepare to meet you in the manger and the faces of all your children. Amen.
Pastor Michael Kirby